Any hope that Zimbabwe would be free of Robert Mugabe is fast disappearing as the 84-year-old clings to power. Worse still, there are signs that he will do so using violence and corruption, the trademarks of his regime, further compounding the problems faced by the starving nation.

Crikey received the following email this morning.

As I write this letter late on Saturday night, (names removed) are being Jambanja’d on their ranch, by 100 plus, “youth brigade” & war vets. The official results of the so called “free & fair” elections are still not available & if the President has his way, he’ll have another 3 weeks or even 3 months to ply the only tactic that he has done succesfully since becoming President in 1980 – terror tactics. As I sit here writing this letter, I understand exactly how they feel – absolutely naked & terrified at what is going on around them. This it seems, is a new initiative by the ruling party, to hammer home their policy of terror, not only of the white farmer, but as a warning to others who may want to buck the system. (Names removed) are not the only ones of the few who live & farm in the Masvingo area who have been booted off within the last few days – (name removed) who runs their succesful country lodge Pa’nyanda, situated on the main road to Beit Bridge just 15 kilometres from Masvingo – has also been forced off from his farm in the last week. So have other surviving farmers had to move. The question is – how long do we have to wait before more white farmers are killed? The police are worse than useless, in fact, they aid & abet the very people that they are meant to control – a far cry from the reputation of the famous British South African Police of the pre Mugabe days, who were considered by many as one of Africa’s finest police forces.

Writing in today’s Guardian, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai offers the following analysis of the Mugabe regime’s efforts to stay in office:

Adept at stealing elections from the hands of voters, Mugabe is now amassing government troops; blocking court proceedings where we have attempted to seek an order simply for the electoral commission to release the final tally of the March 29 poll; raiding the offices of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); and casting a pall of suppression and gloom over the country. The feared militias, made up of misguided activists and the same war veterans who pushed for and benefited from the disastrous land confiscations from the late 1990s, are being mobilised. This can only mean, despite some earlier evidence to the contrary, that sanity has been discarded along with truth in the offices of Zanu-PF …

How can global leaders espouse the values of democracy, yet when they are being challenged fail to open their mouths? Why is it that a supposed “war on terror” ignores the very real terror of broken minds and mangled bodies that lie along the trail left by Mugabe?

This is a time for strong action. We urge the International Monetary Fund, at its meeting this week, to withhold the £1bn of aid to Zimbabwe unless the defeated ex-president accepts the election results in full and hands over the reins of power. This is also the time for firm diplomacy. Major powers here, such as South Africa, the US and Britain, must act to remove the white-knuckle grip of Mugabe’s suicidal reign and oblige him and his minions to retire.

Meanwhile, here are further reports on from news organisations and bloggers on the situation.

When the lights went out: Normally power cuts in Zimbabwe are so common that they’re quite unremarkable. But this time, I was more concerned than usual. Why? Well, true to their word, the Zimbabwe government managed to secure additional power supplies from some gullible nation (Mozambique I believe) to keep the lights on whilst the nation voted in the harmonized elections held on March 29, 2008. Since then the power had stayed on – maybe to make sure there was no hitch in the counting of the votes (ha,ha!). Seems like the ZEC has been blinded by the light because 8 days later they still haven’t announced the result of the presidential election. Anyway, when the power went out on Saturday night I thought, “Oh no, ZEC has rigged the final result and announced Mugabe as the winner”. Lights out Zimbabwe. – Brenda Burrell, Kubatana Blogs

The money problem: Every morning begins in the towns with huge queues outside banks and building societies, for nobody may withdraw more than Z$500m a day – about £6. Harare is the only city where you can see large-denomination banknotes scattered on the pavement. So rapid has inflation become that all notes bear an expiry date after which they are invalid and the central bank adds another nought or two to the next set of notes. People just tear up invalid notes and throw them away. When you speak to people in the queues you realise how beaten down they are. “I have three children, all hungry. I’ve sold everything in the house except a table and our beds,” said Margaret Zimondi, a secretary. – Times Online

Lawyers in the firing line: In a showdown on the steps of the colonial-style High Court building in the capital, Harare, plain-clothes officers brandished guns and threatened to open fire on lawyers who were trying to get inside to put their case to a judge. “We can’t go in. They are threatening to shoot. They are saying no one enters the court,” said lawyer Alec Muchadehama, representing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). –

Waiting: The anger waits alongside our waiting. Today on a calm winter day, quiet and hot, there was a car crash at a market near central Harare. The car had collided with several market women and various stalls. The driver was lynched by the customers and passers-by. Beaten because he is an easy target. As we watched from my car parked across the road the crowd swelled as Harare’s waiting people gathered and joined into the nyaya, the story. Zimbabweans often give out mob justice like food at a ZANU (PF) rally. We tend to vent our life-anger onto a thief who dared to steal a bar of chocolate and a loaf of bread. We tend to leave the creators of our misery in the luxury of freedom. The anger waits alongside our waiting. – Commander Fatso

Playing the race card:

“President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party demanded a vote recount and a further delay in the release of presidential election results, the state Sunday Mail newspaper reported, prompting outrage from the opposition party. Meanwhile, militant supporters of the ruling party invaded five of the few remaining white-owned commercial farms, the farmers reported Sunday — another sign that Mugabe plans to use violence to stay in power.” (Associated Press)

In other words, when in trouble there’s nothing like race-baiting to unite blacks around their leader. Hatred of whites trumps everything. – Guy White